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Austin's Oldest Piano Teacher?

Meet the Austin woman who has been teaching piano for 81 years

Piano hands
Austinite Ruth Pignotti has been teaching piano for 81 years. Courtesy photo

KVUE — Many of you have heard the saying, "Love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life." One Austin piano teacher says that's been her case for 81 years and counting.

With ease and grace Ruth Pignotti plays through Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue. "It's my very favorite piece," she said. She's played the piano for nearly nine decades, and she's not stopping any time soon.

"If you don't play, it's gone. It's use it or lose it, that thing," she said.

This week she turns 93 years old. She's been teaching lessons for more than 81 years. "I'm not stopping. No, I'm not stopping," Pignotti laughed. It's all she's known since she was 12, playing through the Depression and World War II. "This is gonna feel, at the beginning, like a cowboy story," she explained.

"San Antonio, Texas at the Staffle Feed and Grain Company," Pignotti said. That's where she met her teacher, a Russian pianist.

"By the time I was about 12 years old I was probably playing at a collegiate level," Pignotti said. "She said, 'You can be my assistant teacher.' And here I was, I was 12 years old. That was 81 years ago."


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To read the rest of this remarkable story, head to KVUE.

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